For the second time in less than a month, one of the final suspected direct links to the storied Jimmy Hoffa kidnapping and murder has died. Long-retired New Jersey mobster Tommy Andretta passed away this week in Nevada. The “Godfather” of Hoffa case research and reporting, award-winning journalist Dan Moldea broke the news of Andretta’s death on his blog and social media accounts.

The 82-year old wiseguy had been living quietly in Las Vegas for the last two decades, far removed from his younger days immersed in the murder and mayhem of the old-time Provenzano crew in Jersey. Authorities suspected Andretta was part of the clean up and disposal crew in the Hoffa hit. His death may finally sever any direct ties left to the historic unsolved murder.

Another reputed Hoffa-slaying participant, Detroit mob consigliere Anthony (Tony Pal) Palazzolo died of cancer on January 4. Palazzolo, 78, boasted on an FBI wire in 1992 of stuffing Hoffa’s body into a sausage auger. In 2012, deposed Detroit mob underboss Anthony (Tony Z) Zerilli told authorities that Tony Pal was the man who killed Hoffa. Zerilli died of natural causes in 2015.

“Father Time is undefeated, I don’t care how tough you are, how many guys you put in the ground yourself,” said retired Detroit FBI agent Mike Carone. “All the players in the Hoffa saga are probably gone. We know who they were, we have a pretty good idea what went down, we just didn’t have enough hard evidence to bring a case. We’re getting further and further away from the crime itself said that it’s reasonable to think everybody who had first-hand knowledge of it isn’t with us anymore. If that’s not the case right now, it will be soon enough.”

Jimmy Hoffa, the world-famous firebrand of a Teamsters union boss, vanished without a trace from a Bloomfield Township, Michigan restaurant parking lot on the afternoon of July 30, 1975. Hoffa’s body has ever been found and the questions and theories surrounding what actually happened to him have become firmly ensconced in American mythology and the pop-culture zeitgeist of the 44 years since he was last seen.

Most experts and historians believe the Hoffa murder conspiracy was hatched by a combination of mob crews representing crime syndicates in both Detroit and New York. Hoffa “belonged” to the Detroit mob being that he made his residence and name in labor circles there.

According to FBI informants, Tommy Andretta was part of a hit team sent to the Detroit area by Genovese crime family captain Anthony (Tony Pro) Provenzano in the summer of 1975 tasked with making Hoffa disappear. Provenzano ran a Genovese crew in Union City, New Jersey out of Teamsters Local 560. Andretta and his brother Stevie, also implicated in the Hoffa murder conspiracy, were business agents for Local 560 and protégés of Tony Pro’s. Tommy Andretta had taken pinches for loan sharking, extortion, truck hijacking and counterfeiting and spent 1972 and 1973 as a guest of the federal government.

Provenzano was cousins with the wife of menacing Detroit mob street boss Anthony (Tony Jack) Giacalone. Hoffa was on his way to have lunch with Giacalone and Provenzano when he went missing. He had butted heads with his former benefactors in the mafia over his desire to reclaim the Teamsters presidency he had relinquished years earlier in order to get out of prison via a Nixon White House pardon.

While behind bars together in the late 1960s, Hoffa and Provenzano, at one-time fiercely-loyal allies, openly feuded because of union insurance benefits being paid out to Hoffa’s family but not Provenzano’s and Hoffa thinking Provenzano blocked a pension fund loan he had applied for in retaliation. Hoffa had put Provenzano in power in the union and Tony Pro rose to be the most influential Teamsters shot caller on the whole east coast.

Per FBI informant and Provenzano’s driver, Ralph (Little Ralphie) Picardo, Tony Pro dispatched the Andrettas, Provenzano crew enforcer Salvatore (Sally Bugs) Briguglio and his brother Gabe to Michigan to help Tony Giacalone and his crew carry out Hoffa’s execution. Picardo claimed the Andrettas visited him in jail in the days that followed and confessed. The Andrettas, the Briguglios, Tony Pro and Tony Jack were all hauled in front of a grand jury in Detroit and each pleaded the fifth when asked about their knowledge of Hoffa’s disappearance.

The entire Provenzano crew was indicted in a racketeering case out of New Jersey right after the Hoffa hit. Sally Bugs was slain in 1978, the same year Tony Pro was convicted of murder. Gabe Briguglio and the Andrettas were found guilty of union wrongdoing and multiple racketeering offenses at a 1979 trial alongside Provenzano and smacked with stiff prison sentences.

Tommy Andretta was released in 1994 and soon relocated to Las Vegas, leaving his life in the rackets behind him in the Garden State. Tony Pro kicked the bucket behind bars in 1988 and Tony Jack succumbed to kidney failure in 2001 facing a racketeering trial.

The Andretta Brothers will be minor characters in the upcoming Martin Scorsese-helmed film The Irishman which will chronicle the kidnapping and murder of Jimmy Hoffa as told through the eyes of a Delaware Teamsters hit man purporting to be the man responsible for ending Hoffa’s life and played by Robert DeNiro. Oscar-winner Al Pacino plays Hoffa in the Netflix blockbuster slated for release later this year. British actor Stephen Graham is cast as Provenzano in the much-anticipated flick.

One possible remaining connection to the Hoffa hit is Detroit mobster Antonino (Tony Cigars) Ruggirello, Jr. Considered an elder statesman and trusted advisor in the Tocco-Zerilli crime family today, Ruggirello, 85, had the reputation as a contract killer in the 1960s and 1970s, earning the nickname “The Exterminator.” Property he owned in Dexter, Michigan (Timberland Game Ranch) was probed by the FBI at the time Hoffa disappeared as a place Hoffa might have been buried at. Top secret mob functions were known to take place at the sprawling hunting lodge before and after Hoffa vanished, however investigators were never able to obtain a search warrant.

Shortly after Hoffa went missing, Ruggirello got locked up for car bombing an extortion victim in smoggy Flint, Michigan, a factory town an hour’s drive from Detroit and once under his purview as a crew boss. He is still the prime suspect in the disappearance of his first wife Judy in 1968.

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